BACKGROUND: Gallbladder cancer (GBC) is one of the most common gastrointestinal malignancies. The data regarding GBC are, however, limited.
METHODS: Records of 634 patients with GBC over a 10-year period were examined with regard to the clinical presentation, investigative findings, treatment, operative findings and outcome.
RESULTS: The mean age of patients was 51 +/- 11 years and men : women ratio was 0.36:1.00. Pain, jaundice and hepatomegaly were seen in 81.0%, 76.0% and 61.5% patients, respectively. On imaging, a mass replacing the gallbladder was seen in 73% patients. Gallstones were present in 54% patients. Surgery was carried out in 291 (46%) patients and endoscopic treatment in 72 (19%) patients but no intervention was carried out in the remaining patients because of disseminated disease. Among the patients who were operated on, 2.0% had stage I GBC, 3.4% stage II, 17.5% stage III, 47.0% stage IVa and 29.8% stage IVb. Radical resection was possible in 133 (46%) patients. The 30-day mortality was 10% with most (90%) deaths in patients with stage IV disease. The median survival after simple cholecystectomy and radical surgery was 33.5 and 12.0 months, respectively. However, among those who underwent debulking, palliative bypass or exploratory laparotomy alone, the survival ranged between 1 and 3 months. Logistic regression analysis showed that only radical resection improved the long-term survival (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The majority of patients with GBC in India have advanced unresectable disease. Detection of GBC at an early stage is incidental and rare but is associated with long-term survival. Radical surgery, when feasible, is the only option for achieving long-term survival.
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